by ELIZA on February 20th, 2009
_Question: What is your name and how many children do you have? Any babies, if so
Answer: Anna, 13, and Dylan, 9
Q: What is it you created and why? How did you create it? (ie, what inspired you)
A: I make handrolled beeswax candles, wine rings, and jewelry made of sterling, pearls, and glass beads. I started doing it in on September 12, 2001 — after peeling 5 lbs. of garlic while watching the aftermath of 9-11 and knew I had to do something constructive with my nervous energy. Making something pretty seemed an obvious choice. But within a month or so I found myself with a jewelry box of things and figured I might as well try to sell them. And while I was at it, thought I’d sell of my friend’s handmade stuff, too. Craft shows were my first “store,” but after wind blew down my booth one cold Saturday and an unexpected rainstorm left me with sopping wet stuff, I decided selling my collection online was the best option. In December 2003 I launched www.greathandmadegifts.com — and business has been booming ever since.
Q: What is your schedule like now?
A: Let me define booming. I am blessed to have several dozen artists, artisans, authors and craftspeople represented on my website. But to really get the word out I knew I needed to beef up the PR. I’ve been a newspaper / magazine reporter since graduating from the University of Pennsylvania in 1986, and decided to put my writing skills to the test to promote Great Handmade Gifts. I like doing that so much, that I actually got a job in PR — in last year launched Inkandescent Public Relations, a PR / publications / media relations / marketing & design firm that focuses on helping small women-owned businesses increase their visibility. I still freelance a bit, and with two kids and a busy husband (illustrator Michael Gibbs, www.michaelgibbs.com), AND Great Handmade Gifts, I’m really insanely busy! But I love what I do and appreciate every day that I can honestly say that!
Q: What was your schedule like while you were making your product?
A: Being a one-man band is never easy. When you create things, you wear so many hats it’s tough to keep track of where your tools you! On any given day I’d find myself being the buyer, supply manager, designer, secretary, visionary, packaging expert, marketing person, jewelry maker, publicist, psychologist, networker, web guru, and clean up crew. And then I had to drive carpool.
Q: What did you do to MAKE this happen?
A: I asked myself — “If there was one thing you wanted to do before you died, what would it be?” My answer: I wanted to create things that made people smile and brought them together into a community where they learned, worked hard for a common goal, drank some good wine, and laughed a lot.
Q: I hear stories sometimes that there may have been struggles to get the product noticed or on shelves. Did this happen? Could you share your experience with us?
A: I find that retail is the toughest business in the world. There is no predicting it. No organizing it. No way to tell if someone wants wire findings or posts for their earrings. Plus, retailers are the most overwhelmed, under-appreciated workers on the planet. They make their money at the mercy of a fickle public — and artists and artisans depend on them to provide a financial lifeline. I found there to be something a little insane about that. Working online seemed to be a good work around.
Q: How is your product different from others like it?
A: It has been my experience that when people see an artist selling their craft, they tend to buy it — because they want to share or have a piece of that person. That’s why most artists do very well when they sell their work themselves. Working online is a totally different experience, so not only does the jewelry or candles or wine rings have to superior, the presentation has to draw in a customer just as a personal interaction would. That’s tricky, but a beautiful website works wonders. I’m lucky to be married to an award-winning illustrator / designer, because he works his magic to create the type of site that draws people in.
Q: What would you tell moms that are sitting at home with ideas in their head?
A: Get them out of there and what you see! There is no time like the present. Just do it!
Q:What advice do you have for moms that just got a product out there? (tips for them on promotions, marketing, etc) Any tips? What would you like to say at this time?
A: Be patient. See what sells. See what doesn’t. Make it again. And again. Don’t give up — unless what you are making doesn’t give you joy any more. Then look inside to see what it is that you really want to do / make. Keep reinventing yourself. That’s what life is all about.
To read more about Hope’s wonderful creations or blogs follow the links below:
About Babylune — Babylune is a place for all moms to go to for advice, mommy chatter and to be part of a mommy community. You’ll find tips for new moms on baby care and what to expect, news alerts, recalls that may effect them as well as easy ways to deal with being a mom of more than one. I took a survey and have discovered that many of Babylune’s readers are not first time moms, so I’ll be aiming a lot of focus to moms with more than one child. For more visit Babylune.